Sleeping On the Road: Safety Checklist
While accidents cannot be fully controlled, they can be prevented or avoided if you employ preemptive measures. For truck drivers and travelers who are continuously spending nights on the road, driver and vehicle safety remains at the forefront of their day-to-day operations. Road accidents are common, driving long hours can be hazardous and sleeping at rest stops can have the potential to be unsafe. Keep reading for a quick and easy safety checklist to help keep drivers, passengers and vehicles safe before, during and after road travel.
Safety starts with the driver of the vehicle. Whether you are actively driving or sleeping in your vehicle overnight, here is a checklist of simple steps you can take to ensure vehicle safety:
Wear a Seatbelt.
According to recent surveys, 1 in 6 truck drivers do not wear their seatbelt. Yet, wearing a seatbelt is one of the simplest and most effective measures of safety you can take. Seatbelts significantly reduce the risk of injury during accidents, and can even save your life. Putting on a seatbelt is the first thing you should do after entering your vehicle.
Avoid the use of devices.
Many drivers use their mobile phones or other devices for navigation purposes. However, it is not safe to use any device to text, call or browse the internet while behind the wheel. In some states, handling a device while driving is against the law. If you absolutely need to use your device, then you should pull your vehicle to the side of the road.
Practice defensive driving.
Defensive driving means maintaining an awareness of the road conditions, traffic conditions, and any road work on your routes. Make sure your vehicle is prepared for the conditions you will be traveling through. Defensive driving also means that you stay aware of those traveling around you. Regularly check your mirrors, especially while changing lanes or merging.
Check the condition of your vehicle.
Your first and foremost companion on the road is your vehicle. Make sure your vehicle is in prime condition and that there are no irregularities. Check that the brakes are operational, engine oils are at an appropriate level, lights in the dashboard are working properly and inspections are up to date. Because unexpected things can happen on the road, having a proper set of tools and equipment in your truck can also be helpful.
Keep doors locked.
This tip is especially important at rest stops and when you sleep in your semi truck or sleeper cabin. A lot of vehicular crime begins with an unlocked door. In order to keep yourself protected; lock your doors and make sure you have your keys with you.
Sleep on a DOT approved mattress.
Make sure the mattress in your sleeper cabin is DOT approved and safe for over-the-road traveling. Every mattress at SleepDog® is DOT compliant and designed for life on the road, to ensure safety and comfort wherever your travels take you.
Safety in Your Surroundings
Driving at night makes finding a safe place to park and rest more challenging. Rest areas often have poor lighting or a lack of security. When planning your hauls, we suggest planning routes with rest stops that are well-secured with amenities that make drivers feel more comfortable, such as shower facilities, laundry and eateries. There can be difficulty in finding parking at highly-traveled rest stops, and in high traffic areas, truck spaces may even be full before 6pm. It is important that you be prepared on every haul to practice caution and implement safety in any given area. When it comes to safety in your surroundings, here’s what you need to know:
Overnight Parking is Illegal in Certain States.
Brush up on the current overnight parking laws for whatever states you will be traveling through.
There is Safety in Numbers.
Try to park near other drivers. A group of vehicles parked together is more likely to deter unwanted activity. Avoid rest areas that appear deserted or isolated.
Utilize Trucking Apps.
Utilize trucking apps, such as Trucker Path Bro and Park My Truck, to locate the safest truck stops. These apps allow users to indicate their rest stop destination so that they can receive reports or recommendations from other drivers on the number of available parking spaces in the area.
Keep Your Cell Phone Fully-Charged.
You should have your phone on your person each time you have to leave your vehicle. You never know when you may have to report an emergency.
Remain Aware and Alert.
Scan your surroundings and take mental note of anything that appears to be suspicous. You don't want to be caught off-guard in emergency situations.
Exit Safety Plan
Things happen that are out of our control, but we can control how we react to them. The way we respond to an emergency can really make all the difference when it comes to maintaining our safety. We suggest having an exit strategy for unexpected delays or emergencies:
Let Someone Know Where You Will be Staying
Let someone know where you will be staying for the night. It is always helpful if someone knows where you are in case you cannot be contacted or in case of emergencies.
Contact Proper Authorities
If there are any signs of suspicious activity, contact the proper authorities. Most rest stop chains make it their goal to ensure the safety of their customers. If you feel like your safety is at risk, let travel center employees know. If there are no rest stop employees to speak with, you may want to contact the highway patrol.
Remove Yourself from the Situation
If you do run into signs of trouble at a truck stop, the best thing you can do is remove yourself from the situation. Pull-through parking reduces the time you need to pull out of a rest area. If you cannot locate a pull-through parking spot, back into an area that will allow you to pull out of the rest area easily.
The main takeaway from this checklist is how important and easy it is to stay considerate of your safety and the safety of fellow drivers. At SleepDog®, we stand behind the words “Sleep Better, Drive Safer” as we continue to unbox more ways to keep each other safer on the road.